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MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
15-04-2015, 20:37 (This post was last modified: 15-04-2015 21:43 by DavidHB.)
Post: #1
MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
All the fuss caused by the BBC's seemingly sudden and badly communicated decision to change over to .aac for its high quality feeds, leaving many listeners high and dry in the process, seems now to have died down. A lot of people have simoncn, and his programming and documentation on getting the combination of MinimServer and MinimStreamer transcoding to act as the interface between the new streams and user devices, to thank for the fact that the problem created for them by the BBC has now been solved. I hope that Simon has been properly thanked for this splendid effort.

Those of us who use Linn DS and DSM players were somewhat insulated from this furore. For those who do not know, Linn implements radio streaming on its players by requiring the user to open a TuneIn Radio (tunein.com) account. You then add radio stations to your TuneIn library, and specify your Tunein account name in the Linn configuration program (Konfig) page for your device. The Control Point (Kazoo, Kinsky or Bubble DS) then gives you a 'radio' page which displays your library of stations and lets you select the one to play. As far as I can see, this process bypasses the server completely; the player is in effect acting as both server and renderer.

The BBC change caught TuneIn (like everyone else, it seems) on the hop, and playing BBC stations on Linn devices was more than a little unpredictable (and the Linn forums correspondingly noisy) for a few days. But the dust settled fairly quickly and Linn owners soon had normal radio service restored. So it's only in the last few days that I have started to wonder whether the BBC high quality streams would actually sound better when played on my Akurate DSM via MinimStreamer rather than using the standard TuneIn arrangement.

The MinimServer User Guide has lots of good step-by-step instructions for new users on getting radio streams to work with particular devices. Existing MinimServer/MinimStreamer users have to cherry pick their way through this material to find the subset of instructions that is applicable to them. In my case this involved:
  • getting FFMPEG installed on my NAS, which is a story in itself - see this thread;
  • creating a test playlist (.m3u) file, using the Linn Classical station example helpfully provided in the MinimStreamer User Guide, saving it on the NAS with my other playlists, doing a MinimServer rescan and checking that the playlist and the stream were picked up in the CP and that the stream played correctly;
  • checking that transcoding was working; fortunately, the Linn Classical stream is MP3, and I already had an MP3 transcoding entry in my stream.transcode property;
  • adding the BBC stations to the playlist, by copying the contents of the sample file referred to in the User Guide into the existing Radio stations.m3u file, and checking that the result was formatted as described in the Guide;
  • making provision for .aac transcoding, by adding 'aac:wav24' to the stream.transcode property.
The result of all this is the best radio sound I have ever enjoyed. On my system, transcoding gives the same kind of sound quality improvements to the radio streams as it does to FLAC files on the server; the transcoded WAV stream is noticeably clearer and easier to listen to than the .aac or.mp3 original.

The only fly in the ointment is that, to enjoy this better sound quality, I have to abandon the standard Linn/TuneIn arrangement, which is rather elegantly implemented in Bubble DS, and settle for the somewhat less elegant, though still quite practical, playlist approach. I cannot think of any way in which the TuneIn streams can be transcoded.

I'd be interested to know how other Linn owners using MinimServer/MinimStreamer have got on with transcoding radio streams. Unless I start to get dropouts, I think that transcoding will become the normal way I listen to classical music stations.

David
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15-04-2015, 22:37
Post: #2
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(15-04-2015 20:37)DavidHB Wrote:  I'd be interested to know how other Linn owners using MinimServer/MinimStreamer have got on with transcoding radio streams. Unless I start to get dropouts, I think that transcoding will become the normal way I listen to classical music stations.

I have found that transcoding AAC streams improves the sound from my KDS/1. I didn't find this with MP3 streams. If anything, I thought the original untranscoded MP3 stream sounded slightly better.

I find listening to radio stations via a playlist to be very convenient. There is a bit of overhead in getting the playlist set up initially but this shouldn't take too long for a small list of favourite stations.
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16-04-2015, 11:25 (This post was last modified: 16-04-2015 11:29 by DavidHB.)
Post: #3
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(15-04-2015 22:37)simoncn Wrote:  I have found that transcoding AAC streams improves the sound from my KDS/1. I didn't find this with MP3 streams. If anything, I thought the original untranscoded MP3 stream sounded slightly better.

I delayed replying until I'd had a chance to listen again.

On both my ADSM and my Kiko, there is no doubt of the improvement with transcoding on AAC. It is more noticeable on the ADSM. With MP3 (using the Linn Classical 320Kbps stream for testing), the difference is more marginal, but still in favour of transcoding on the ADSM. On the Kiko it's too close to call at present. All in all, SQ concerns are probably not going to prevent me from listening to transcoded MP3 streams, and I have the TuneIn option immediately to hand if I change my mind.

Incidentally, have you set up SPACE optimisation with any of your players? Again, I had a more noticeable improvement with the ADSM, but the change was worthwhile on the Kiko as well. The room where I am using the ADSM has more resonance nodes than the room with the Kiko, so this result is not perhaps surprising.

(15-04-2015 22:37)simoncn Wrote:  I find listening to radio stations via a playlist to be very convenient. There is a bit of overhead in getting the playlist set up initially but this shouldn't take too long for a small list of favourite stations.

I entirely agree, and hope I was not suggesting otherwise. The process I described probably took less time to implement than to document, thanks mainly to the sample playlist material you have so helpfully provided in the User Guide. The minor 'fly in the ointment' is really a conflict between style and substance. Both the playlist and the Radio page are easy to use in Bubble DS, but I like the presentation of the latter.

David
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16-04-2015, 15:31
Post: #4
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(16-04-2015 11:25)DavidHB Wrote:  Incidentally, have you set up SPACE optimisation with any of your players? Again, I had a more noticeable improvement with the ADSM, but the change was worthwhile on the Kiko as well. The room where I am using the ADSM has more resonance nodes than the room with the Kiko, so this result is not perhaps surprising.

I haven't done this, mainly because it requires Davaar 25 and I don't like the sound that this produces. (I'm still on Davaar 4.1.10.)
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17-04-2015, 08:22
Post: #5
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(16-04-2015 15:31)simoncn Wrote:  I haven't done this, mainly because it requires Davaar 25 and I don't like the sound that this produces. (I'm still on Davaar 4.1.10.)

Actually it's moved on to Davaar 28 now, but I suppose from your perspective that's a distinction without a difference. By the time I got my ADSM, Davaar 4 was long gone, and I prefer to stick with supported versions if possible.

David
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17-04-2015, 10:43 (This post was last modified: 17-04-2015 10:45 by Peter@57m.)
Post: #6
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(17-04-2015 08:22)DavidHB Wrote:  
(16-04-2015 15:31)simoncn Wrote:  I haven't done this, mainly because it requires Davaar 25 and I don't like the sound that this produces. (I'm still on Davaar 4.1.10.)

Actually it's moved on to Davaar 28 now, but I suppose from your perspective that's a distinction without a difference. By the time I got my ADSM, Davaar 4 was long gone, and I prefer to stick with supported versions if possible.

David

Davaar 28 is only on Akurate I believe, latest for KDS/KDSM is 25.

With my KDSM I went to Davaar 23 to try Tidal, but disliked the sound of that release, stopped using Tidal and went back to Davaar 4.19.789 (4.1.10 was not available for KDSM).

When Davaar 25 came out, I found it was an improvement on 23 and nearly as good as 19. But with space activated it was much better than 19.

I also prefer listening to radio via MinimStreamer with transcoding.

Peter
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17-04-2015, 10:45
Post: #7
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(17-04-2015 08:22)DavidHB Wrote:  Actually it's moved on to Davaar 28 now, but I suppose from your perspective that's a distinction without a difference. By the time I got my ADSM, Davaar 4 was long gone, and I prefer to stick with supported versions if possible.

David

I have found the firmware sound to be fairly consistent for the last few releases (since about Davaar 12), so I doubt there would be much difference in 28 compared with 25.

Like you, I would prefer to be up to date on the latest release, but not if this means having the music sound less enjoyable.
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17-04-2015, 12:54
Post: #8
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(17-04-2015 10:43)Peter@57m Wrote:  Davaar 28 is only on Akurate I believe, latest for KDS/KDSM is 25.

Indeed. At the other end of the scale, 25 is also the latest for the Kiko.

(17-04-2015 10:43)Peter@57m Wrote:  With my KDSM I went to Davaar 23 to try Tidal, but disliked the sound of that release, stopped using Tidal and went back to Davaar 4.19.789 (4.1.10 was not available for KDSM).

When Davaar 25 came out, I found it was an improvement on 23 and nearly as good as 19. But with space activated it was much better than 19.

I also prefer listening to radio via MinimStreamer with transcoding.

I have always been intrigued by the discussion of the SQ of different Davaar versions; I haven't noticed much if any change with my setup. But both transcoding and SPACE optimisation gave me noticeable improvements.

David
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17-04-2015, 12:59
Post: #9
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(17-04-2015 10:45)simoncn Wrote:  I have found the firmware sound to be fairly consistent for the last few releases (since about Davaar 12), so I doubt there would be much difference in 28 compared with 25.

Like you, I would prefer to be up to date on the latest release, but not if this means having the music sound less enjoyable.

That's entirely understandable. You will see that Peter@57m has a sightly different take when SPACE is factored into the equation. Do you have the option to try SPACE on one of your DS boxes and revert to Davaar 4 if the change doesn't work for you?

David
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17-04-2015, 13:39
Post: #10
RE: MinimStreamer vs. TuneIn Radio on a Linn DS
(17-04-2015 12:59)DavidHB Wrote:  That's entirely understandable. You will see that Peter@57m has a sightly different take when SPACE is factored into the equation. Do you have the option to try SPACE on one of your DS boxes and revert to Davaar 4 if the change doesn't work for you?

David

Most of my listening takes place in a small study through a pair of Focal CMS 50 active near-field monitors positioned about 90 cm from my listening position. Can SPACE be configured for this situation?
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